KOTA KINABALU: Three-term assemblyman Joseph Sitin Saang is attempting to make a comeback in the coming general election, this time contesting on a PKR ticket.
The respected local leader from the interior town of Telupid is returning from the political wilderness by standing for election in the state constituency of Labuk.
He will face incumbent Michael Metah Asang, the Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) vice-president whose candidacy was confirmed by party president and Deputy Chief Minister Joseph Pairin Kitingan last year.
Saang represented Kuamut during the PBS government until he quit to join Parti Demokratik Sabah (now renamed United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation) after the 1994 state election.
In the 1999 election, he contested on a Barisan Nasional ticket but lost to Abdul Malek Chua of PBS.
The defeat and the subsequent re-entry of PBS into the BN fold sidelined him as a political force for over a decade.
He re-emerged from the political wilderness in June last year when he joined opposition party PKR.
Labuk is one of the two state seats within the Beluran parliamentary constituency, a non-Muslim Bumiputera Kadazandusun Murut majority area. The other is Sugut.
‘No political novice’
All the seats were won by the ruling coalition in the 2008 elections. The incumbent MP is Parliament Deputy Speaker Ronald Kiandee of Umno.
Surady Kayong, also of Umno, is the assemblyman for Sugut.
Asang, who was Jambungan MP (1986-1995) won Labuk for the opposition PBS in the 1999 election defeating BN’s Tan Yong Gee of Upko. He retained the seat uncontested in the 2004 election and again in the last election.
Asang garnered 6,178 votes in the 2008 election defeating Sipin Kadandi of PKR who gained 723 votes while independents Mervin Enti and Yusof Apok polled 657 and 107 votes, respectively.
Saang, Asang and Tan, apart from being related, have another thing in common – all were groomed by former Labuk assemblyman the late Paul Baklin Gurandi.
Saang, who is backed by the pro-Pakatan Rakyat political platform Angkatan Perubahan Sabah (APS) headed by incumbent Tuaran MP Wilfred Bumburing, is brimming with confidence.
“The support has been overwhelming … I am no political novice … I can feel the support of the people who want change. It is for this reason that I am contesting in this election,” he told FMT.